Book reviews - fiction age 2 to 5 (page 3)

These are richly illustrated books and they are not just for young readers. Although we have given the ages 2 to 5 as a rough guide, many will appeal to older children. Some are thought-provoking titles from which all ages can gain pleasure. You're never too old for a picture book! Plenty here for all ages to share and enjoy.

The most recent reviews are at the top of this page - so these are generally the most recently published books.

About A Bear by Holly Surplice

A big and very friendly bear is the star of this book which has real child-appeal. THe bear gets up to all sorts of antics in the amusing story which flows through the pictures and we meet lots of his friends along the way. After a busy day, everyone needs a bear hug and this makes a lovely story to wind down with at the end of a busy, fun-filled day.The way colours are used in the illustrations is quite outstanding - they are unusual and convey a real warmth and gentle humour.  

 The Fox (10th Anniversary Edition) by Margaret Wild

Illustrated using the colours found in the Australian Outback - the scrubland, the burnt forests and the deserts, this is a powerful and emotional story of friendship and betrayal. Dog and Magpie are friends, but when the third - Fox - comes along the dynamic changes and leads to the sadness of the ending. It is told by means of scratchy text woven around the pictures, Although it is a picture book, it really is not suitable for young children.

The High Street by Alice Melvin

I always love to review books from Tate Publishing as they are so out of the ordinary, and this is no exception. We are taken on a journey down the High Street as we follow Sally on her search to buy 10 items - will she find that elusive final item? Can you help Sally find the things she wants as you fold out the flap depicting each shop. There is lots here to talk about and the illustrations are packed with detail. This is the High Street as it should be - full of individual and quirky shops - a real delight.

Brambly Hedge - Autumn Story by Jill Barklem

Bad weather is on the way and the mice are busy - but will Primrose make it back safely? Brambly Hedge is a beautiful miniature world that was first published over 30 years ago and which children have enjoyed ever since. An old fashioned world populated by mice and depicted in gentle water colour illustrations. The countryside is shown in amazingly accurate detail - we can learn a lot!   Look out for Brambly Hedge - Spring Story, Brambly Hedge - Summer Story  and Brambly Hedge - Winter Story

The Rescue Party by Nick Butterworth 

It's Percy's day off - what will happen in the park? Percy’s picnic is interrupted when a rabbit falls into a well well. All the animals gather together with a huge rope to help pull the rabbit out but they don't find her - until they all get a huge surprise at the end.... Wonderful, heart-warming stories with timeless appeal which extend children's imaginations in a wonderful way.

 One Snowy Night by Nick Butterworth

This is the first story in the much-loved Percy the Park Keeper series and it introduces us to a wonderful cast of characters.  Percy always feeds the animals in his park where he lives. But one snowy night his animal friends need more than food. One by one they appear, shivering on his doorstep, asking for shelter. Soon there is no room in the bed for Percy but a surprise visitor has them all scurrying for shelter. The animals are beautifully portrayed and their expressions are wonderful! There's a pull out surprise at the end too.

Little Jack Potato and the Big Surprise - The Froobles by Gordon Volke

The Froobles are fruit and vegetable characters that have been brought to life by the magic of children's imaginations. Scenes created by playgroup children provide The Froobles characters with an ever-changing and magical world to explore. The fact they are created by children mean that they will have instant appeal and a level of familiarity to children. Jack's favourite game is to play tricks, but the friends get their own back when the tricks get too much for them. An attractive set which children will love to collect, they are enhanced by a set of stickers included in each book. Each story teaches an importnat lesson in a fun and gentle way.

Billy Banana and the Magic Mystery by Gordon Volke

Today the children have created a fairground scene and Billy Banana steps into the scene..... He needs to practise his magic tricks and one is unexpectedly successful, proving the truth of the old adage: If at first you don't succeed....There are 12 books to look out for in the series - here are some more  Sienna Strawberry (Froobles)Apps Apple (Froobles)Bobby Blackberry (Froobles)Charlie Chilli (Froobles)Chloe Carrot (Froobles) and Cory Cucumber (Froobles). for more fun.

Brave Little Penguin by Tracey Corderoy

I love Tracey's books, so I was thrilled to see another to review in the latest batch from Little Tiger Books. I wasn't disappointed! The penguin family are all scared of Wal-the-Wump, except for Plip. The most important thing in Plip's life is his Sockybug (which is beautifully depicted throughout the story in fluffy textures). But he loses Sockybug whilst he is playing and guess who has got him?  An enchanting story with a very happy ending. This story will be close to the hearts of all children who have a favourite object from which they can't bear to be parted and they will be reassured to know that they are not alone!

 The Very Hairy Bear by Beth Shoshan

Just what do Very Hairy Bears grow into? A panda... a polar bear.... a grizzly bear.... or a honey bear perhaps. But honey bears are VERY sticky! A lovely gentle story about being just what you are and being happy with that, illustrated in soft colours with delightful effects. A lovely comforting bedtime read.

 Mimi Make-Believe by Claire Freedman

When Mimi is playing on her own, she is fearless and has wonderful adventures - she's an explorer.... a knight... a racoon... but secretly, she longs for a real friend. One day, a new neighbour moves in and Mimi dreams all sorts of wonderful adventures - but will she be brave enough to make friends when she hears a cry for help? A heartwarming story about adventure, bravery and friendship, with bold colourful illustrations by Gemma Raynor.

King Jack and the Dragon by Peter Bently and Helen Oxenbury

Three enchanting characters marching forward on the very first page really draw the reader into the story. 'Jack, Zak and Caspar were making a den.....' and this is a den that every child can make and this book is a wonderful way tpo encourage children's imaginations. The three firends have a wonderful day fighting dragons but one by one they go home and only Jack is left to face dragons all on his own. Who is the four-footed beast? Jack wishes perhaps he wasn't on his own....This lovely rhyming story is the perfect bedtime tale with all the ingredients children love.

 Thomas and His Friends by Christopher Awdry

I really wanted to see this new book in the Thomas series, to see if it had recaptured the charm of the originals. I wasn't disappointed - this is just as good as the originals and the illustrations by Clive Spong are just right. There's nothing like the original format! Four stories here - Thomas and the Swan; Buffer Bashing; Gordon's Fire Service and then it ends with a very important event in Centenary. A worthy addition to the collection and a series which never seems to date.

 Get Ahead Fred by Daisy Dawes

I loved the unusual cover of this book, which really attracted my attention and made it stand out from other picture books - and I wasn't disappointed. The detailed and amusing models with which the book is illsutrated are really unusual and full of character. Fred's hat collection is superb - and a great way to introduce children to hats! He determines to have the very best hat of all for the Queen's visit - but it all goes sadly wrong This cautionary tale shows children that big is not always best!

 The Four Little Pigs by Kimara Nye

A charming take on the original, in which Tom is introduced as the fourth little pig and an integral part of the story. Tom's magical grandmother wants to read him a bedtime story but Tom says that he's heard Three Little Pigs before and reading is boring. So, Granny Mag transports Tom into the story and it takes an extraordinary turn. Bright pictures which are full of fun enhance this unusual story.

 Sonny the Sea Tractor by Loretta D'Souza

This is about two children, Harry and Netty, who play a game of hide and seek on the beach. Netty, thinking she has found the perfect place to hide, gets trapped on an island. Only Sonny the Sea Tractor can save the day! A bright colourful story which is perfect for teaching children the dangers of playing on the beach. Vibrant colours in the pictures plus a variety of fonts really enhance the story, which is fun for summer reading.

Library Lily by Gillian Shields

Lily loves reading - she is always and everybody calls her "Library Lily". One day she meets Milly who doesn't much like reading - she would rather explore and make her own adventures. Can a bookworm and an adventure lover make friends? When they do, each teaches the other something important - the excitement of good book and the excitement of making your own adventures. Most of all - the joy and excitement of friendship. Vibrant, child-like illustrations bring the story alive.

Monstersaurus by Claire Freedman

A new book from the creators of the hugely popular Aliens Love Underpants series.  Monty loves inventing but things don't quite turn out as he expects - his walking toaster ran away and his robot went berserk! But one day he found a book on inventions - but it came with a dire warning! Follow Monty's hilarious adventures as his creation gets rather out of control.......... brilliantly zany illustrations tell you the story along with the rhyming text. There's a big - and hilarious - surprise at the end. A really enjoyable book.

Underpants Thunderpants by Peter Bently

A title which is bound to appeal to children! One fine day, Dog hangs his underpants out on the line - but a storm blows up and his underpants land up in all sorts of weird and wonderful places... A hilarious story with some very clever twists in the tale. Share the rhyming story and the bright pictures with your child and make sure you get all the humour of the story - there's something fresh every time you look. Great fun! 

Fluff and Billy by Nicola Killen

Fluff and Billy do everything together, but just like many best friends, one gets a little tired of the other copying all the time - but they make up and do everything together again. A lovely story of friendship and making up. The illustrations are enchanting - just look at the tear in poor Billy's eye - and Fluff and Billy are quite adorable. A gentle, reassuring story to share with any child and especially one who has fallen out with their best friend.

Brother William's Year by Jan Pancheri

A wonderful evocation of medieval monastic life, this is the story of the year in the life of Brother William, a monk at Westminster Abbey. Written and illustrated in a totally appropriate style, just like a medieval manuscript, this book is a delight. It captures the peaceful routines and simple lives of the monks and their close-knot community in an exceptional and sometimes humorous way, such as when Brother William's dog jumps up at the Abbot with muddy paws! Additionally, we are given pictures of the abbey buildings and gardens, so we can imagine the brothers going about their routines. There is also useful information about monasteries., and even some recipes. The insight of this book is such that the reader is not surprised to know that the author is the current Head Gardener at Westminster Abbey. A lovely book.

The Very Noisy Jungle by Kathryn White and Gill Guile

This is great fun! Join the animals in the jungle as Whiz the parrot decides that the jungle is just too quiet. But who can make the best noise? It's up to the reader to decide as you go throught the pages of this colourful book, pressing the buttons and listening to the wide variety of animal noises - and then you can hear them all together at the end. But who makes the bigest noise of all? Look out for more in the Very Noisy Picture Books series - some reviewed below plus  The Crunching Munching Caterpillar (Very Noisy Picture Book) and The Very Lazy Ladybird (Very Noisy Picture Book)

 The Wheels on the Bus - Very Noisy Picture Books by Polona Lovsin

The old favourite brought to life in another innovative picture book from Little Tiger Press, who have a talent for searching out and publishing some of the most fun books around. As you share the familiar story with your toddler, they will delight in pressing the sound buttons at the appropriate point - a lovely way to encourage interaction and sharing. After a few exciting adventures on the way, which add interest to the familiar story, everyone arrives safely at....... An enchanting cast of characters make this a really fun book.

What's That Noise, Little Mouse  - Very Noisy Picture Books by Stephanie Stansbie

Another lovely book in the Little Tiger series. Little Mouse is nearly asleep - but wait 'What's that noise?'. The house is full of creepy, ghostly noises and poor Little Mouse is scared but still goes to investigate. But it's all too scary and he races back to bed and Mummy Mouse comes to the rescue and shows him where all the boises come from. Children will love the sound buttons and the best bit of the book is where Mummy shows Little Mouse where all the noises come from. An enchanting story with lovely illustrations and a reassuring ending for any child who has been frightened by noises in the dark.

Bedtime, Little Ones! by Claire Freedman

A gentle old-fashioned feel to this picture book makes it a perfect bedtime read. At the end of a happy day playing, it's time to go off to home for supper and the familiar and reassuring bedtime routines. Join the mouse family as they have supper, and then drop in to the rabbits' home as they have their baths - but wait! Can you find the missing rabbit? Then we join the badgers for bedtime stories, the squirrels on their way up to bed, the bears looking at the night sky - and finally everyone is safely tucked up. I love the way this story shows us all the animal families and the glittery textures on the pictures will enchant young children.

When Will It Snow? by Kathryn White and Alison Edgson

I was immediately struck by the beautiful illustrations especially on the end papers. This is the story of Little Bear, who doesn't want to snuggle down to sleep but wants to stay awake and enjoy all the fun with his friends. He doesn't want to miss the snow so all his friends join together to show him what snow is really like,,,, but they all have rather different ideas! But the time comes when Bear has to go to sleep - will his friends forget him? This is a tale of true friendship- real friends always stay around -  with a lovely happy ending.

The Not-So Scary Snorklum by Paul Bright 

Home stomped the big hairy scary snorklum - but wait a minute! Is he really scary - if so, why do his whiskers wibble and his tail twitch? As we read through the story and the Snorklum collects food for his supper, gradually night is seen to fall in the pictures. But the clever animals turn the tables on the scary Snorklum in this modern-day fable. It is a super read aloud story with its alliterative text and children will love to join in, encouraged by the repetition. A story to read over and over again.

Beware of the Storybook Wolves by Lauren Child

Children have mixed feelings about the 'baddies' in fairy tales - a tingle of excited fear whenever they read about them. Herbie loves his mum to read him Little Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs, but, just in case, she has to take the books out of his bedroom each night. One night, she forgets and Herbie has some very scary experiences. Who can he call on to help? The wolves have come out of storybooks, so who else but other storybook characters? A wonderful take on the original stories, this is inventive and imaginitive and will be loved by children as they follow the twists and turns in the text through the bright illustrations. Lauren Child has a wonderful gift of knowing exactly how to appeal to her young audience.  

My Bear Griz by Suzanne McGinness

Billy has a very special friend - a bear called Griz. The stunning paintings bring Griz to life and the large size of these is especially effective. The short text (in large, easy reading font) is complemented by lots of annotations in childish handwriting, giving the book a really personalised feel. I especially like the diagram of the night sky which forms part of the picture when the two are shown looking at the stars. Billy and Griz share everything and this is a lovely story of friendship - with a totally unexpected twist at the end. 

Old MacDonald Had a Farm - A Very Noisy Picture book by Daniel Howarth

Another traditional song brought to life. The traditional text runs alongside a new story - and poor Farner MacDonald really does need some help to keep his noisy and unruly animals in order.  Buttons to press to hear all the animal noises, and the song, plus colourful illustrations mean that there is plenty of entertainment to be had from this book. 

 Monster Day at Work by Sarah L Dyer

Work is just fun, isn't it? Join Little Monster as he goes to work with Dad - first he chooses his clothes then he joins the commute. Then he must travel with Dad and all the other commuters. Once at work he eats the biscuits at the meeting, colours the graphs his father makes on the computer, has lunch in the canteen, then has a nap and finally stops off for a drink on the way home - and that's all there is to work! A wonderful child's view of adult life, portrayed with gentle humour in charming illustrations. Great for reading before those 'go to work with....' days.

Grace at Christmas by Mary Hoffman

It is amazing that it is 20 years since Amazing Grace was published, as it is still as fresh and appealing as ever. Grace loves everything about Christmas but this year Nana says that Christmas is going to be shared with visitors from Trinidad. Grace's initial reaction is to be upset and not want to share, but her sunny good nature shines through and everyone shares a very special surprise. Grace is a wonderful character and everyone warms to her and is drawn into her world through the vibrant and colourful pictures which add so much to the story. 

Katie and the Waterlily Pond by James Mayhew

Subtitled 'A magical journey through five Monet masterpieces' this unusual book has Katie entering right into the five paintings she views in a gallery. The story tells us how Katie has a painting lesson, then tries to paint the pictures - but there are problems  every time, until finally it all works out. We see the original paintings and Katie in mini-scenes from each, which cleverly blend Katie into Impressionist scenes, as the story cleverly weaves its way through the paintings. An inspirational way to inrtoduce very young children to great works of art in an accessible and fun way, with a delightful heroine.

Tom, Tom the Piper's Son by Priscilla Lamont 

The second in the series Nursery Rhyme Crimes and this time the story is told by the pig himself. Was Tom really a thief, or was he just trying to help? An entertaining rhyming text is complemented by amusing watercolour drawings which provide plenty of detail for discussion. Hopefully, the series will inspire children to create their own version of other popular rhymes.

The Green Line by Polly Farquharson 

A child's-eye view of a visit to the park, conveyed in simple text with photographs depicting every stage of the journey. The journey is traced by the green line which swirls across the pages, leading the eye through photo and text. Children's observational skills and a love of nature are encouraged and the book is ideal for both town and country dwellers - we can all find green space somewhere! It is such a simple idea and I think it is a brilliant inspiration for adult and child to create their own version of this story.

I Don't Want to be a Pea by Ann Bonwill 

Can the hippo called Hugo and the bird called Bella agree about their outfits for the fancy dress party in time to get there? An entertaining and unusual story about friendship which shows that compromises can be made for the sake of friendship. Lovely coloured illustrations and an amusing text make this a good story to share.

 Paul Thurlby's Alphabet

'Every letter is unforgettable in this awesome ABC book'. A really unusual alphabet book. The illustrations are stunning and very cleverly illustrate the letters - children will love to find the letter shape and it's a great way to help them learn the shapes of the letters. The pictures are packed with detail and are works of art in their own right. An imaginitive book which children will find really stimulating to share with an adult.

Aliens - An Owner's Guide by Jonathan Emmett

The essential handbook for all alien owners! All you need to know about choosing and caring for your pet alien. How to feed it, how to potty train it, how to play with it - it's all here! And you must not be put off by the pure grossness of your pet - after all, you chose it! And make sure you heed the warning at the end - what happens when your alien decised to return home? Hilarious text and illustrations guarantee this will be a hit with young children. 

Tabby McTat by Julia Donaldson

A lovely heart-warming story from the creators of The Gruffalo, who are just a magical pairing. As ever, Axel Scheffler's illustrations are the perfect foil for Julia Donaldson's sing-song poetry - you just can't resist reading it aloud, and very soon, the children will be joining in too as this story becomes another well-loved favourite. A lovely storyline has Tabby McTat getting somewhat waylaid by a charming female cat - and while he is, his owner lands up in hospital. Tabby leaves his comfortable home and roams the city looking for the busker - but will he be happy back in his old life? Or is there a solution.... The illustrations are wonderful and, combined with the rhythm and repetition of the storyline make the perfect sharing story. You can also enjoy the CD, read by Imelda Staunton. Wonderful! 

Lost in the Toy Museum - an adventure by David Lucas 

When the visitors leave the museum, all the toys come to life - but Bunting, the old toy cat, likes a bit of order in the museum, so he counts the toys and inspects them - then tells them about the hsitory of the museum. But one night the toys decide to play a trick and Bunting has lots of exciting adventures and learns that it is fun to play. The real joy of this book is in the vivid and detailed illustrations. Children will revel in the bright colours and enjoy spotting their favourite toys as they join in the fun at the museum.

 The Journey by Neil Griffiths and Scott Mann

The boy is sad as his boat goes bobbing away down the river - but what marvellous adventures it has! The rhyming text swishes and swirls through the pictures as the boat travels through stream, lake, right down to the sea, having exciting adventures all along the way. Battered and bruised, nonetheless there is a happy surprise at the end. The text is perfectly complemented by the pictures, which reflect the mood of each stage of the journey and the book is a lovely introduction to the world of rivers.


Tell Me the Day Backwards by Albert Lamb 

You can tell just from the cover that this is going to be the perfect bedtime story. Mama Bear is talking to Timmy Bear, who is tucked up in bed and the colours are muted, gentle and relaxing with a lovely old-fashioned feel - David McPhail has perfectly captured the feel of the story. . They play the game Tell the Day Backwards as Timmy recalls a very eventful day - and a very long sleep. A lovely reassuring book which gently conveys important messages. I think a lot of children will be 'telling the day backwards' once they have enjoyed this story.

What the Ladybird Heard Sound Book by Julia Donaldson

Children will love this book with its ten animal sounds to listen to along with the rhyming story. A stunning golden yellow glittery cover with lots of interest in font and pictures leads us into the lovely story. The animals on the farm are very noisy - except for the ladybird who never makes a sound - but she's there to be spotted on every page, adding another level of interactivity to this book. Two robbers plot to steal the prozwe cow, but the tiny ladybird has a very noisy plot and very cunning to deter them and they are led totally astray. A hilarious story, lots of opportunities for children to press the sound buttons, prompted by the little pictures, and fabulous illustrations by Lydia Monks make this an exceptional book, which really does have everything. Exceptional!

At the Seaside by Germano Zullo and Albertine

Another unusual (and virtually wordless) book from Tate Publishing, this time focussing on everything we might find during a seaside holiday. There are people enjoying themselves in the sea and this is full of humour and repays close attention - as indeed, do all the other pages. Then  we are taken on to the beach, the hotel, the resort, the museum, the funfair and the camp. The A4 board format gives plenty of space for all the amusing cartoon style illustrations and I think adults will enjoy this just as much as children.

 Messy Martin by Neil Griffiths

Poor Martin! He just can't seem to help being messy. It was all right when he was a baby and nobody minded him making a mess but now the poor boy daren't eat anything messy - spaghetti and tomato ketchup are definite no nos! He has no clean clothes and as for eating out... But Gran comes up with a wonderful idea that solves Martin's problems - and makes her very rich! Also available with an audio CD with the story and sound effects. A fun story that will be reassuring to messy eaters everywhere!

Something Beginning With Blue by Sally Symes

'I spy with my little eye...' all the different colours of the rainbow. Look tyhrough the peepholes and guess what you are going to see. The book lists two things that it isn't and gives factual clues as to what it could be. On the opposing pages to the text are pictures of children with peep-holes eyes. Turn the page slowly and you gradually get a picture of what you are going to find. A cleverly designed book making good use of an old favourute theme. I like the peep holes in the front cover which give a taster of what is to come.

 Puffin Peter by Petr Horacek

The stunning cover really caught my eye. Matt yellow with a shiny and wonderfully coloured shiny penguin on the front - I just wanted to run my fingers over him! It is the story of Peter and Paul and what happens when Peter gets lost. Peter meets a friendly whale who tries to help.  In a simple story of mistaken identity he finds that parrots are not right, nor toucans, nor penguins...but eventually .... The illustrations are stunning and make effective use of collage.

 Colours by PatrickGeorge

Colours and Shapes are early learning concept books which make use of acetate sheets to convey their message. Cleverly designed, the child flips over the acetate sheet and creates a new picture on the opposing page - so five dots can be a green frog or a brown bear - clever! This is continued through the book, which is very imaginative in its use of shape and colour. It is bound to stimulate discussion as you look at the use of colour withy your child. Fascinating and original.

 Shapes by PatrickGeorge

Another innovative title from PatrickGeorge. This is an excellent way to introduce young children to the concept of shapes - not always an easy one to grasp. The pictures are witty - for instance I love the way the man on the first page is empty handed once you flip the acetate sheet over. There is lots to talk about and children can try to guess what will be revealed when the clear page is turned. Simple, uncluttered and great fun.

Jack and the FlumFlum Tree by Julia Donaldson

Any book by the author of The Gruffalo is bound to be well-received and, as our current Children's Laureate, Julia Donaldson's work always creates an interest. The only cure for Granny's moozles is the fruit that grows on the FlumFlum tree which grows on a faraway island. So off sets Jack with a crew of three and a large sack filled with a motley collection of objects. What use could they be? Well, you will soon find out in this nonsensical story as the intrepid crew brave all sorts of dangers. Illustrator David Roberts has perfectly matched the words with his colourful and detailed drawings. I love the twist at the end and so will your children. Great fun and well up to expectations.


Grow Your Own! by Esther Hall

Subtitled 'A Yummy Story about Gorwing (and Eating) Your Own Food' this a very topical book given the current emphasis on healthy eating. Busy mums everywhere will emphasise with the start of the book - from a grey city, Mum and Sidney come home to the 'ping' of the microwave - and the only vegetable Sidney sees is the mushroom on top of his pizza! It all changes when Sid goes to stay with his Granny in the country and he finds out about all the lovely fruit and veg that can be grown. Bright illustrations and child-friendly text make this an enjoyable read with an important message.

 Solomon Crocodile by Catherine Rayner

Poor Solomon! All he wants is a bit of fun but nobody wants to play - they all think he's a bit of a nuisance - a pest - a pain - and send him away. But - wait a minute - there's a rumpus in the river. Could this be more trouble? Not for Solomon, who finally finds a friend in this story about different kinds of play. Beautifully illustrated, in soft delicate colours, this is a lovely book to share and read aloud - a group of children could take on different roles. Catherine is a past winner of the Kate Greenaway medal, so you know this will be an excellent picture book.

Rod Campbell's Animal Book 

It's lovely to see this old favourite (first published 1991) reissued for a whole new generation to enjoy - and their parents to revisit. Simple, child-friendly rhymes, Rod Campbell's trademark simple and colourful illustrations and lots of flaps to lift guarantee hours of fun. The combination of old and new rhymes keeps the book fresh - children love old favourites and never tire of them but they will nejoy the new ones too. A lovely first introduction to animals and sturdy enough for little ones to enjoy over and again.

 Missing Mummy by Rebecca Cobb

This book had me in tears, it is so emotional. It handles the issue of child bereavement in a very sensitive way and the reader is really drwan into the little boy's emotions as he tries to come to terms with the loss of his mother, both physically and emotionally. It fills a much-needed gap in the market and is definitely a book to share, not one for any child to read on her own. It also helps parents to understand death as seen by a child. Any child suffering from the loss of someone close will be comforted by the fact that others share their grief, their confusion, their guilt and bewilderment. There is the gentlest of humour and a wonderful closeness of the remaining family. Beautifully written and sensitively illustrated, this is definitely a book to bring out on those sad occasions when it is needed.

The Big Book of Pictures and Words by Ole Konnecke

Another unusual book from Gecko Press, this is a big (A4) board book packed with colourful illustrations. There's everything in a bedroom, in the kitchen, seasons, gardens, the sea, music, numbers and lots more. Look very carefully on everypage and you will find there is a story told - encourage older children to retell the story using the clues in the pictures - a great way to encourage creative thinking and writing. A fascinating book with many levels of interest. 

Miffy the Artist by Dick Bruna

The lovable little white rabbit is back and in this story she is inspired by her visit to an art museum and decides to become an artist herself.Like all great artists, she observes the world around her and takes inspiration from that. By bedtime, her bedroom walls are covered with her pictures. A wonderful story about how a visit to an art gallery can provide inspiration - and an encouragement to us all to take our children to see great art. 

The Treasure Thief by Beatrice Rodriguez 

A wordless adventure featuring the same characters as the acclaimed "The Chicken Thief". The themes of the story are loyalty, greed and what really is treasure. This is definitely a book for adults to share with children to ensure they really understand the message. Quirky and thought-provoking, the illustrations repay close attention in this fascinating and unusual book.

 Lettice The Flying Rabbit by Mandy Stanley

The glittery embossed cover will instantly appeal to children - especially little girls, as Lettice goes off flying in her pink aeroplane. Lettice has already starred in several picture books and has become a firm favourite. Lettice sees a bird fly past and wishes she could fly - but however hard she flaps she just can;t take off! Then her dream comes true - but it's not quite as good as she expected, until a little girl comes along to help her.... Delicate illustrations complement the text perfectly. This is a comforting read about an endearing little character with a lovely family.

Topsy and Tim Safety First by Jean Adamson

The old favourites Topsy and Tim are back with another story about new adventures. Just like little children everywhere, the twins have lots of new experiences and children love to be reassurred by the familiar duo as they get used to new things. In this story, Topsy and Tim learn about how to keep safe in everyday situations and this is a great way to get the message across to children - with a quiz to reinforce at the end.

Cats Ahoy! by Peter Bently 

A fishy story of the High Seas which is great fun both in the amusing rhyming text and the humorous pictures. Alfonso overhears fishermen talking about a record-breaking catch and hatches a very very cunning plan to make sure that the cats benefit. I love the way the text flows - it really is pure poetry and this is a lovely story to read aloud. But make sure you share the illustrations with the children so they can really see the cleverness of them. A swashbuckling, rollicking read.

 Argus by Michelle Knudsen

Sally points out to the teacher that her egg (part of a science experiment) is different but the teacher is determined to carry on and ignores Sally - despite all the evidence to the contrary - a green, dragonlike creature which hatches from Sally’s egg. When Argus goes missing the whole class comes to the rescue. An understated telling of the story makes the most of the humour and children will love the reality of the classroom situation - and the fact teachers can be wrong! This is a very funny and charming story, with an underlying message about it being ok to be different and is beautifully illustrated.

A Home for Mr Tipps by Tom Percival

I love the atmosphere conveyed by this unusual book. The pictures are full of vivid colour, including lots of black, which really highlights the way Mr Tipps feels alone and scared. Mr Tipps is a stray cat who lives under a dustbin. He is frightened and alone until he meets a boy - but one day the boy is not there. Mr Tipps get lost and the boy searches for him - but is that a monster in the dark woods??? You can get a feel for this touching book about friendship in a YouTube video.

Ten Little Babies by Rose Impey

Ten little babies playing in the garden and one crawls away, so there are nine little babies... Do you get the picture? Once all the naughty babies have crawled, slid, flown... look for them all in a hide-and-seek picture. The rhyming text makes it a great read-aloud story Charming illustrations by Nicola Smee are packed with action - lots of things for children to spot and talk about, especially as they will find children doing their own favourite activities. 

Blast Off! By Malachy Doyle and Gill McLean

The toys find a spaceship - but it's only big enough for one. How will they decide who goes? In this entertaining story, one toy after another is eliminated until only one is left..... who will it be? Beautiful illustrations and a charming cast of characters make this a lovely read and great for sharing. This is one in the QED Storytime series. A special feature of the series is the inclusion of supporting notes for parents and teachers - these give ideas to maximise the use of the books. For example, for this story it suggests ideas such as working out the story from the pictures and saying what they think happens after the end. Super ways to get children involved in what they are reading. 

I Wish I Could ... Read by Tiziana Bendall-Brunello

The soft and gentle colours of the cover reflect the gentle and sensitive way in which the issue of friendship is handled in this story. Little Pig finds a book and wishes she could read it, so she asks all her farmyard friends, but they don't quite know what to do with it either. Luckily, along comes someone who can help. A gently humorous story with charming illustrations which makes a lovely book to share. It is one in a series  which handles issues in a thoughtful manner and all the books include tips for parents and teachers. Look out for I Wish I Could...Roar!I Wish I Could...Dance! and I Wish I Could... Sleep!

Look Out Cub by Peter Bently

The first thing that struck me about this book was the beautiful photography - lovely photos of lions are set against a drawn bacground and they really stand out. Cub is bored and nobody wants to play, so he decides to climb a tree - with the inevitable result. But Mum helps out. The story will really engage young children and this is helped by the practical notes for parents and teachers at the end. Look out for more in the series - Twin Trouble (Wild Tales),  Ella's Bath (Wild Tales),Banana Monster (Wild Tales) A bright attractive series, just right for little hands.

Colours and Shapes by Ruth Owen

A brightly coloured book in a series designed to introduce first concepts to children. But this stands out from the average, being a step ahead with far more detailed information and images, making it ideal for follow on from those very first books. Packed full of activities and things to spot - can your child spot Peek-a-Boo on every page? This is a marvellous book, full of colour and detailed illustrations - there is so much to do on each page, and it all reinforces learning about colours and shapes. I love it! Look out for Numbers and Counting (Peek-a-boo Penguin)Letters and Sounds (Peek-a-boo Penguin)First Words and Reading (Peek-a-boo Penguin) as well.

Tales From Percy's Park: The Treasure Hunt by Nick Butterworth

Percy the Park Keeper is back, along with all his friends. He has laid out a treasure hunt but as none of his friends can read, all the clues are visual. But things start to go a bit wrong - Percy forgets himself and eats the treasure, and then the animals follow a clue which leads to a scary encounter. But you can be sure that, in the tradition of these gentle stories, it all turns out all right in the end. And there's a treasure hunt for everyone in the book, as well as a surprise picture. A book which will be read over and over again, for the charming story and enchanting illustrations.

Digger and Skip by Sebastien Braun

A lovely brightly coloured new series about vehicles - perfect for little boys. Digger is looked down on by the other vehicles because he can only do one thing - but digging is what he does and he does it better than anyone else. A lovely story about being valued with an endearing hero. The illustrations will really capture children's attention - they are bright and simple and the text wraps around enticingly.


First Week at Cow School by Andy Cutbill 

Appealing from the title onwards, this book is hilarious. Join Daisy as she trots off to school to be taught by Mrs Gold-Top. But Daisy has always been just that little bit different, so she doesn't do things quite like the other cows. Her hoofprints are odd and her cowpats - well, they are nothing like cowpats! But it turns out that there is one thing Daisy can do better than anyone..... The quirky illustrations are hugely entertaining and the whole book is great fun - and shows that, however different we are, everyone has a talent,

Rabbit and the Big Red Scooter by Mark Chambers

Rabbit loves his blue bicycle but Hare goes one better with a big, green scooter. So Rabbit buys himself a big, red scooter but he can't control it so he goes back to his old trike - except on Sundays, when he drives a big, white stretch-limousine that's a very special way to take his friends out - see them in the surprise fold-out. Beautifully illustrated by Mark Chambers, children will enjoy the story and hopefully they will laern from its gentle message too.

Little One's Bedtime by Suzi Moore 

How can a child possibly go to sleep when there is so much to do? There's gold to be found... monsters always stay up late... there's a princess to save and lots more really important things to do. A book to extend children's imagination - and give lots of excuses not to go to bed! But all this adventuring is very tiring.... The illustrations have real child-appeal and the rhyming text is ideal for lulling to sleep.

 Barry the Fish with Fingers and the Hairy Monster by Sue Hendra

Sue Hendra has become a popular author of picture books, with both an earlier title about Barry and Norman the Slug with the Silly Shell to her credit. Barry is a lovable character and, along with his friends, the books introduce the young reader to a fun underwater world. Zany text and brilliantly coloured illustrations will appeal to children of 3 and up who will find the story hilarious. Puffy is hiding in the wreck but is terrified by a monster - will he be safe?

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss

A hilarious collection from much-loved Dr. Seuss. A fun rhyming text flows seamlessly from fish to .strange creatures - wumps and nooks, yops and yinks. All illustrated in Dr. Seuss' inimitable style. Simple words, familiar to children, and lots of repetition make this an excellent way to start children off on reading in a really enjoyable way. The quirky text and illustrations will develop your child's imagination as they spin off in all sorts of wonderful ways, inspired by the strange creatures. Dr. Seuss' books have been popular for many years - what better recommendation can there be?

The Boss Baby by Maria Frazee

I love this book! I can't wait to share it with parents I know who have a 10 week old baby - it sums it all up perfectly and I am sure it will have them in fits of laughter! We all know how very demanding a young baby can be and this book sums it all up absolutely wonderfully. The young tyrant is shown making demands 24/7 - just like a totally unreasonable boss. The illustrations are just perfect and capture the story beautifully. It will strike a chord with all parents - and with those who have demanding bosses. Every new family should have a copy!

Planes and Rockets and Things That Fly by Richard Scarry

A wonderful collection from Richard Scarry that will provide hours of amusement. Every single page is absolutely packed full of things to look at and talk about - the stories can be read again and again as there will always be something new to spot. We learn how aeroplanes fly... how birds fly... stop off for a summer picnic... go to the air fair... take a trip on a plane and much much more. This book is a lovely way to stimulate discussion and will, of course, appeal to all children interested in anything that flies. Richard Scarry's books are fun and imaginative and have long been favourites. 

Splish, Splash, Splat by Rob Scotton

A lovely reassuring book to share with your small child when first learning to swim. Like many cats, Splat is afraid of water and he certainly does not want to learn to swim. Nor does he want to be friends with Spike - until he finds that they have more in common than he thought. Splat the Cat has become a hugely popular character - featuring on pottery and stationery as well as in books. Rob Scotton is a talented illustrator and the pictures are really eye-catching - they convey the story wonderfully and are enchanting to study. Full of humour and with a very unexpected way of getting someone into the water, this beautifully produced book is a real winner. 

The Fearsome Beastie by Giles Paley-Phillips 

A lovely read-aloud book with text that really flows. A fearsome beastie is roaming around and the children are at first terrified then amazed as the beastie sits down and begins to cry... but they are in for a nasty surprise. Happily though, Granny turns the tables, making this into a story that can be read at bedtime without scaring the children!! Vibrant illustrations by Gabriele Antonini capture the story wonderfully - especially the expressions on all the faces. don't worry - it's not a bit scary and would make a lovely bedtime story.

Bedtime for Monsters by Ed Vere

A fearsome monster is coming towards you....... is he after a bedtime snack? No, that's not what he is after - but you will have to read the book to find out what he does want. Follow the lovely monster through the book on his way to find...YOU. I love the picture of him on his bicycle - who could possibly find that scary? He travels a long, long way and children will laugh aloud at his adventures. A lovely bedtiem story that shoul;d certainly alleviate any fears about monsters under the bed.

Mrs MacCready Was Ever So Greedy by Julie Fulton

Adults will love reading this aloud and children will love listening to it! As you can guess from the title, it is written in rhyme. Children will love to go 'YUK' as they hear about all the things greedy Mrs MacCready eats - especially the cherries with worms wriggling out of them! She gets so fat that nothing will fit her and a paper publishes a plea for anything she could wear - a hot air balloon might fit the bill perhaps, or a marquee.. but then disaster befalls. Stunning bright illustrations by Jona Jung make this really eye-catching and fun - make sure you take time to appreciate all the amusing details. Great fun.

Help Me! by Paul Geraghty

A picture book based on true animal behaviour, this tells the story of a series of events unfolding by a waterhole in Africa. As the animals get into trouble, follow the heart-warming story of how they help each other. A poetic story that will give young children a reassuring glimpse into nature. Although this is based on true observations, I have slight reservations about the perception it will give children. However, it is a beautiful read and the illustrations are stunning and the animals beautifully portrayed. - take time out to enjoy all the detail in the backgrounds. 

The Dog Detectives: Lost in London by Fin and Zoa

Can the Dog Detectives save London? Based on the legend that there must always be ravens in the Tower of London, the story has the Dog Detectives searching all over the city for the ravens who are playing hide and seek. I love the way this book draws the reader in and makes him part of the book. The story is sprinkled with clues (in rhyme) for the reader to unfold, meaning children really stop and think rather than skimming through it. Great for encouraging hreasoning in a fun way. The illustrations, by Monika Suska, are stunning - bright and packed with acutely observed detail - how quickly can children spot the ravens in the pictures? An ideal book to share with children before, during or after a trip to London - and don't miss the facts at the end. I love it - really stands out from other picture books.

The Conquerors by David McKee

A thought-provoking book that sends out a plea for peace. The general of a powerful country invades and conquers every country around until eventually he reaches a country so small it doesn't even have an army - but he doesn't let that put him off. But this little country turns out to be the most powerful of all as it welcomes the soldiers. The child-like illustrations are perfect for little children - they will revel in spotting and discussing the details. A book to be discussed by adults and children, which will stimulate discussion and awareness.

The Sunflower Sword by Mark Sperring

A little boy whose world is full of knights and dragons, is desperate to go off and do battle with dragons - but he has to use a sunflower as his mother won't let him have a sword. He plays happily all day but then comes face to face with a real dragon. The story has a surprising twist and it tunrs out that a sunflower can be a really powerful weapon. Amusing pictures really make the story complete and set the scene - just look at the little boy's 'helmet'.A charming story with a delightful hero and a strong message about peace.

This Book Belongs to Aye-Aye by Richard Byrne 

You may ask 'What is an Aye-Aye?' Well, you will be glad to know that we learn 10 facts about aye-ayes before starting the book! And did you know there is an academy for aspiring picture-book animals? What a lovely concept! THere is a competition in the classroom, but mysteriously, it keeps changing... who could be the culprits? Unfortunatley, they rather give it away at the end! This is, in some respects, a school story so is great to add to the collection of stories to read with children starting school. With its emphasis on kindness, helpfulness and teamwork it would be a super addition to infant and reception classroom libraries.

Please Bear's Birthday by Avril Lethbridge

It's Bear's birthday so he invites all his friends to a party. All sorts of people are there - the kind one, the shy one, the helpful one, the boasting one.... Children will readily identify with the story which gently gives an important message about good behaviour and the fun everyone can have together when everyone behaves well. It would be a great book to read to get everyone to sit down and calm down during the excitement of a party. The book has a slightly old-fashioned feel, which I loved. In a word full of hustle and bustle and bright colours it is good to slow down and read a traditional story with charming softly coloured illustrations. This is the second in the series from Maverick Books - I look forward to more.

Don't Wake Mr Bear by Jill Newton 

It's autumn in the forest and all the animals are preparing to hibernate - helped along by the Woodland Orchestra playing a lullaby. All is peaceful until suddenly - along come the wolves, ready to party, and everyone joins in and has great fun. But Dormouse explains why everything needs to go to sleep and they all settle down. On one level, just a charming story, but also a great way to introducde the concept of hibernation to young children - and, of course, a lovely bedtime story.The illustrations (on full colour pages) are vivid and eye-catching, and the variations in font work cleverly to take the reader through the story. I love all the expressions on the animals' faces.

Mrs Muffly's Monster by Sarah Dyer 

Why is Mrs Muffly acting even more strangely than usual? Could she be hiding a monster in her house? The unknown storytellers take you through the strange happenings, and we learn that 'we' jump to the wrong conclusion. I think that children will probably guess what is going on part way through the story and they will be thrilled to 'know better'! This is an entertaining and amusing story, with warm and vibrant illustrations. I would be giving the story away if I told you what the extra activity at the end is! An enchanting story

Dexter Bexley and the Big Blue Beastie on the Road by Joel Stewart

This is a book which needs few words to convey lots of humour - just look at the picture of Dexter Bexley, the Big Blue Beastie and Princess Philippina off to slay the dragon, for example! Enchanting illustrations, set against pastel colour backgrounds, are full of gentle humour as Dexter and the Beastie set off in search of adventure. They find what else but a forest, a princess and a dragon, in a story of friendship and fun. They become wandering palyers and they can't seem to stop - until Sir Percy Pecket comes along with the perfect solution... A lovely story. 

100 Things by Masayuki Sebe

This is an intriguing book and an unusual counting book. Each two page spread depicts 100 objects, such as mice, moles, elephants and birds - and every one is different. Interwoven among the pictures are questions and comments, making this book great fun and giving plenty to think about. Look carefully, and you will spot some very amusing things - this really is a book that repays close attention. Just to take one example - of the 100 children, you are asled to spot who likes football, where the other cat is, how many wear glasses and more... Colourful and fascinating. 

 Dilly Duckling by Claire Freedman and Jane Chapman

Little Dilly Duckling is out for a waddle with her family one day and she gets behind the others as she enjoys all the pretty things around her. Oh dear - she loses a feather! Will she ever catch it? All children have had the fun of trying to catch a falling leaf or blowing feather so they will enjoy following Dilly as she tries to catch it - and makes lots of new friends on the way. A lovely gentle story with really attractive illustrations showing the natural world at its best - and an unexpected ending.

Under the Bed by Paul Bright and Ben Cort

There are very ordinary things under most people's beds, but there are all sorts of exciting things to discover under this bed. Meet some monsters who are not in the least scary, and are far too busy with their own concerns to worry about the sleeper in the bed.  This is the perfect reassuring book to share with children who are concerned that there are monsters under their bed - all the monsters under this bed are scared away by.... guess who? 
These mini hardbacks from Little Tiger Press are the perfect size for little hands and are most attractive.  

Where's My Mummy? by Jo Brown

Baby crocodile has lost his mummy, so he sets off to find her. Could it be the monkey? No, because the crocodile can't swing from a branch. Then perhaps the elephant is mummy - but no, baby crocodile can't squirt water. An engaging romp through a variety of friendly animals until finally the zebra helps him find mummy. The illustrations are very appealing to children, with the cheerful backgrounds and brightly coloured animals.

Can You See Sassoon? by Sam Usher

Sassoon the snake adores playing hide-and-seek, and he's very good at camouflaging himself. Sassoon hides himself in all sorts of strange places and, despite his bright colours, he can be quite hard to spot. There are plenty of red herrings on gthe way! Follow him throughout the colourful pages and get a surprise at the end. Filled with loads of fun things to spot, the busy pictures in this book will keep you children amused for hours! It's a great way to encourage children to be observant and the rhyming text adds to the fun. A book to share one-to-one with children.

School for Bandits by Hannah Shaw 

Mr and Mrs Raccoon's son Ralph is just too polite. These unusual parents don't want their child saying please and thank you so they send him to the School for Bandits. At first, he just can't do anything right. But of course, we all know that being good and polite reaps rewards... Children will love the detailed fun-packed illustrations, which are full of humour. How about the 'Skool Rules' or the lovely detail in the High Street? A bright funny book with text that curls around and invites you to to read on.

When the World is Ready for Bed by Gillian Shields

As you would guess from the title, this is a perfect bedtime story. Just like all babies, the baby rabbits have their preparing for bed routine. This is enchantingly told, from the time the flowers curl up their petals until the stars come out and then on to the next day - a delightful way to relate what is happening in the big world outside as children prepare for bed. Anna Currey's pictures of life in the warren are warm and fascinating in their detail and evoke family life perfectly. Cuddle up with your little one at bedtime and enjoy this traditional-style story.

 No, Baby, No by Grace Nichols

Baby thinks he is really clever - he can climb up Grandad, splash the bath water, climb the bookshelves, eat newspaper.......... but for some reason, the adults don't think this is clever and keep saying 'no'. Then baby does something that all the adults think is really clever... A book for sharing and enjoying together, that helps us to see how babies perceive their world. Lovely gentle illustrations perfectly reflect the gentle pace of this book. Enjoy hearing Grace read her story aloud in the audio CD which is included.

My First Car was Red by Peter Schossow

'Your first car is always the best.' Grandpa bought the boy his first car - and it is powered by sweat!!! When it was finished, it was off to driving school and then it's into a hilarious ride after a wasp's nest drops into the car. A charming story, told from the perspective of the child, about brotherhood and adventure which races along to a surprising end. Full of interesting information which will be relished by car enthusiasts. An interesting feature is the use of road signs, which are integrated into each page - can your child spot one on the last page? 

What Will You Be Grandma? by Nanette Newman

Lily turns the tables and asks Grandma what she would like to be when she grows up. Grandma thinks she is probably quite grown up already, but she and Lily dream up lots of fun and imaginative things Grandma could do to make the world just the sort of place all children want to live in. But at the end, Grandma decides there is just one thing she wants to be... A gently humorous and touching story that is ideal for all grandparents and grandchildren to share to celebrate their very special relationship. Try reading it aloud together - the two fonts used make that easy and fun. Emma Chichester Clarke's softly coloured, realistic and fun illustrations are the perfect foil to the story.


Count With Fudgy by Sarah Marley 

Before I review the books, let me tell you about adorable Fudgy Bear, who came to me along with the books. Fudgy is the perfect name for him as he is just the colour of a rich creamy fudge! He is soft and squishy and has a lovely friendly face. His freely moving arms and legs make him perfect for pretend play - he can wave, clap and lots more. It's a lovely idea for children to cudde him as they read about his adventures, and then they can take him on their own adventures - and maybe they will tell their own stories about him and what he gets up to.
Count with Fudgy is a beautifully presented book, with .glossy photographs that really catch the eye. Your child can count from 1 to 10 with Fudgy and answer the questions. The pictures on the opposing pages show a colourful and superbly photographed range of colourful objects to count and identify the colours, which adds a whole extra dimension to the book.

 Fudgy Goes to the Zoo by Sarah Marley

Share Fudgy's adventures at the zoo and spot him on every page as he becomes part of the superb photographs. He meets zebras, giraffes, meerkats and lots more. Each page has a question for children to discuss and there's a fun quiz at the end. The excellent photographs, printed on high quality glossy paper, really make the books stand out from others. The books make clever use of different font styles, sizes and even colour to make the text stand out and be more fun. It is a very well thought out concept and I look forward to more in the series.

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